The 2006 Tel Aviv shawarma restaurant bombing was a suicide bombing on April 17, 2006 at "Rosh Ha'ir" shawarma restaurant in Tel Aviv, Israel. Eleven Israeli civilians were killed in the attack and 70 were injured. The Palestinian militant organization Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the terror attack.
On Monday, April 17, 2006, around 1:30 pm, a Palestinian suicide bomber approached a crowded fast food restaurant near the old Tel Aviv Central Bus Station in the southern part of the Neve Shaanan neighborhood. The suicide bomber blew himself up when the security guard stationed at the entrance to the restaurant asked him to open his bag for inspection.
The blast killed 11 people and injured more than 70. Two of the victims died on arrival at Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv. Of the wounded, six were seriously hurt, 12 sustained moderate wounds, while the rest were lightly injured.
The Palestinian Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack and identified the bomber as Sami Salim Hamad from near Jenin in northern West Bank. Islamic Jihad leader Elias Ashkar, who was accused of being behind the suicide attack, was killed by Israeli troops in the village of Qabatiya, together with other four Palestinians, on May 14, 2006.
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Gideon Meir stated that Israel held Hamas responsible for the attacks, accusing the Hamas of "giving support to all the other terrorist organizations".
Khaled Abu Helal, spokesman for the Hamas-led Interior Ministry, called the attack "a direct result of the policy of the occupation and the brutal aggression and siege committed against our people."
United States: The Bush administration strongly criticized the attacks, calling it "a despicable act of terror for which there is no excuse or justification."
U.S. Court ruling on case
The family of Daniel Wultz won a case in May 2012 in a U.S. District Court against Iran and Syria for their supporting "Palestinian militants" in this suicide bombing attack. The amount of the judgement was for $323,000,000 and represented the first time that a U.S. court issued a judgment against Syria for terror related activities.
March 10, 2006, 21:24:00 UTC MSD 46990 12:48 AMT 20 Dhanus 211 Darian
Official insignia of the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter mission.
Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) is a spacecraft designed to study the geology and climate of Mars, provide reconnaissance of future landing sites, and relay data from surface missions back to Earth. It was launched on August 12, 2005 and reached Mars on March 10, 2006. In November 2006, after five months of aerobraking, it entered its final science orbit and began its primary science phase. The cost to develop and operate MRO through the end of its prime mission in 2010 was US$716.6 million.
The spacecraft continues to operate at Mars, far beyond its intended design life. Due to its critical role as a high-speed data-relay for ground missions, NASA intends to continue the mission as long as possible, at least through the late 2020s.
After the twin failures of the Mars Climate Orbiter and the Mars Polar Lander missions in 1999, NASA reorganized and replanned its Mars Exploration Program. In October of 2000, NASA announced its reformulated Mars plans, which reduced the number of planned missions and introduced a new theme: "follow the water". The plans included a newly-christened Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter to launch in 2005.
On October 3, 2001, NASA chose Lockheed Martin as the primary contractor for the spacecraft's fabrication. By the end of 2001 all of the mission's instruments were selected. There were no major setbacks during MRO's construction, and the spacecraft was shipped to John F. Kennedy Space Center on May 1, 2005 to prepare it for launch.
MRO has both scientific and "mission support" objectives. The prime science mission was designed to last from November 2006 to November 2008, and the mission support phase from November 2006 - November 2010. Both missions have been extended.
MRO cruised through interplanetary space for seven and a half months before reaching Mars. While en route most of the scientific instruments and experiments were tested and calibrated. To ensure proper orbital insertion upon reaching Mars, four trajectory correction maneuvers were planned and a fifth emergency maneuver was discussed. However, only three trajectory correction maneuvers were necessary, which saved 60 pounds (27 kg) of fuel that would be usable during MRO's extended mission.
Animation of Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's trajectory around Mars from March 10, 2006 to September 30, 2007 Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter·Mars
MRO began orbital insertion by approaching Mars on March 10, 2006, and passing above its southern hemisphere at an altitude of 370–400 kilometers (230–250 mi). All six of MRO's main engines burned for 27 minutes to slow the probe from 2,900 to 1,900 meters per second (9,500 to 6,200 ft/s). The helium pressurization tank was colder than expected, which reduced the pressure in the fuel tank by about 21 kilopascals (3.0 psi). The reduced pressure caused the engine thrust to be diminished by 2%, but MRO automatically compensated by extending the burn time by 33 seconds.
Completion of the orbital insertion placed the orbiter in a highly elliptical polar orbit with a period of approximately 35.5 hours. Shortly after insertion, the periapsis – the point in the orbit closest to Mars – was 426 km (265 mi) from the surface (3,806 km (2,365 mi) from the planet's center). The apoapsis – the point in the orbit farthest from Mars – was 44,500 km (27,700 mi) from the surface (47,972 km (29,808 mi) from the planet's center).
On March 30, 2006, MRO began the process of aerobraking, a three-step procedure that cuts in half the fuel needed to achieve a lower, more circular orbit with a shorter period. First, during its first five orbits of the planet (one Earth week), MRO used its thrusters to drop the periapsis of its orbit into aerobraking altitude. This altitude depends on the thickness of the atmosphere because Martian atmospheric density changes with its seasons. Second, while using its thrusters to make minor corrections to its periapsis altitude, MRO maintained aerobraking altitude for 445 planetary orbits (about five Earth months) to reduce the apoapsis of the orbit to 450 kilometers (280 mi). This was done in such a way so as to not heat the spacecraft too much, but also dip enough into the atmosphere to slow the spacecraft down. After the process was complete, MRO used its thrusters to move its periapsis out of the edge of the Martian atmosphere on August 30, 2006.
In September 2006 MRO fired its thrusters twice more to fine-tune its final, nearly circular orbit to approximately 250 to 316 km (155 to 196 mi) above the Martian surface, with a period of about 112 minutes. The SHARAD radar antennas were deployed on September 16. All of the scientific instruments were tested and most were turned off prior to the solar conjunction that occurred from October 7 to November 6, 2006. After the conjunction ended the "primary science phase" began.
On November 17, 2006 NASA announced the successful test of the MRO as an orbital communications relay. Using the NASA rover Spirit as the point of origin for the transmission, the MRO acted as a relay for transmitting data back to Earth.
Tectonic fractures within the Candor Chasma region of Valles Marineris, Mars, retain ridge-like shapes as the surrounding bedrock erodes away. This points to past episodes of fluid alteration along the fractures and reveals clues into past fluid flow and geochemical conditions below the surface.
On September 29, 2006 (sol 402), MRO took its first high resolution image from its science orbit. This image is said to resolve items as small as 90 cm (3 feet) in diameter. On October 6, NASA released detailed pictures from the MRO of Victoria crater along with the Opportunity rover on the rim above it. In November, problems began to surface in the operation of two MRO spacecraft instruments. A stepping mechanism in the Mars Climate Sounder (MCS) skipped on multiple occasions resulting in a field of view that is slightly out of position. By December normal operations of the instrument was suspended, although a mitigation strategy allows the instrument to continue making most of its intended observations. Also, an increase in noise and resulting bad pixels has been observed in several CCDs of the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE). Operation of this camera with a longer warm-up time has alleviated the issue. However, the cause is still unknown and may return.
HiRISE continues to return images that have enabled discoveries regarding the geology of Mars. Foremost among these is the announcement of banded terrain observations indicating the presence and action of liquid carbon dioxide (CO2) or water on the surface of Mars in its recent geological past. HiRISE was able to photograph the Phoenix lander during its parachuted descent to Vastitas Borealis on May 25, 2008 (sol 990).
The orbiter continued to experience recurring problems in 2009, including four spontaneous resets, culminating in a four-month shut-down of the spacecraft from August to December. While engineers have not determined the cause of the recurrent resets, they have created new software to help troubleshoot the problem should it recur.
On March 3, 2010, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter passed another significant milestone, having transmitted over 100 terabits of data back to Earth, which was more than all other interplanetary probes sent from Earth combined.
On August 6, 2012 (sol 2483), the orbiter passed over Gale crater, the landing site of the Mars Science Laboratory mission, during its EDL phase. It captured an image via the HiRISE camera of the Curiosity Rover descending with its backshell and supersonic parachute.
On July 29, 2015, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter was placed into a new orbit to provide communications support during the anticipated arrival of the InSight Mars lander mission in September 2016. The maneuver's engine burn lasted for 75 seconds.InSight was delayed and missed the 2016 launch window, but was successfully launched during the next window on May 5, 2018 and landed on November 26, 2018.
Three cameras, two spectrometers and a radar are included on the orbiter along with two "science-facility instruments", which use data from engineering subsystems to collect science data. Three technology experiments will test and demonstrate new equipment for future missions. It is expected MRO will obtain about 5,000 images per year.
The High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera is a 0.5 m (1 ft 8 in) reflecting telescope, the largest ever carried on a deep space mission, and has a resolution of 1 microradian (μrad), or 0.3 m (1 ft 0 in) from an altitude of 300 km (190 mi). In comparison, satellite images of Earth are generally available with a resolution of 0.5 m (1 ft 8 in), and satellite images on Google Maps are available to 1 m (3 ft 3 in). HiRISE collects images in three color bands, 400 to 600 nm (blue-green or B-G), 550 to 850 nm (red) and 800 to 1,000 nm (near infrared or NIR).
Red color images are 20,264 pixels across (6 km (3.7 mi) wide), and B-G and NIR are 4,048 pixels across (1.2 km (0.75 mi) wide). HiRISE's onboard computer reads these lines in time with the orbiter's ground speed, and images are potentially unlimited in length. Practically however, their length is limited by the computer's 28 Gigabit (Gb) memory capacity, and the nominal maximum size is 20,000 × 40,000 pixels (800 megapixels) and 4,000 × 40,000 pixels (160 megapixels) for B-G and NIR images. Each 16.4 Gb image is compressed to 5 Gb before transmission and release to the general public on the HiRISE website in JPEG 2000 format. To facilitate the mapping of potential landing sites, HiRISE can produce stereo pairs of images from which topography can be calculated to an accuracy of 0.25 m (9.8 in).
HiRISE was built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp.
The Context Camera (CTX) provides grayscale images (500 to 800 nm) with a pixel resolution up to about 6 m (20 ft). CTX is designed to provide context maps for the targeted observations of HiRISE and CRISM, and is also used to mosaic large areas of Mars, monitor a number of locations for changes over time, and to acquire stereo (3D) coverage of key regions and potential future landing sites. The optics of CTX consist of a 350 mm (14 in) focal lengthMaksutovCassegrain telescope with a 5,064 pixel wide line array CCD. The instrument takes pictures 30 km (19 mi) wide and has enough internal memory to store an image 160 km (99 mi) long before loading it into the main computer. The camera was built, and is operated by Malin Space Science Systems. CTX mapped 50% of Mars by February 2010. In 2012 it found the impacts of six 55-pound (25-kilogram) entry ballast masses from Mars Science Laboratory's landing of Curiosity rover.
Mars Color Imager on the right side
The Mars Color Imager (MARCI) is a wide-angle, relatively low-resolution camera that views the surface of Mars in five visible and two ultraviolet bands. Each day, MARCI collects about 84 images and produces a global map with pixel resolutions of 1 to 10 km (0.62 to 6.21 mi). This map provides a weekly weather report for Mars, helps to characterize its seasonal and annual variations, and maps the presence of water vapor and ozone in its atmosphere. The camera was built and is operated by Malin Space Science Systems. It has a 180-degree fisheye lens with the seven color filters bonded directly on a single CCD sensor.
The Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM) instrument is a visible and near infrared (VNIR) spectrometer that is used to produce detailed maps of the surface mineralogy of Mars. It operates from 370 to 3920 nm, measures the spectrum in 544 channels (each 6.55 nm wide), and has a resolution of 18 m (59 ft) at an altitude of 300 km (190 mi). CRISM is being used to identify minerals and chemicals indicative of the past or present existence of water on the surface of Mars. These materials include iron, oxides, phyllosilicates, and carbonates, which have characteristic patterns in their visible-infrared energy.
Mars Climate Sounder
The Mars Climate Sounder (MCS) looks both down and horizontally through the atmosphere in order to quantify the global atmosphere's vertical variations. It is a spectrometer with one visible/near infrared channel (0.3 to 3.0 μm) and eight far infrared (12 to 50 μm) channels selected for the purpose. MCS observes the atmosphere on the horizon of Mars (as viewed from MRO) by breaking it up into vertical slices and taking measurements within each slice in 5 km (3.1 mi) increments. These measurements are assembled into daily global weather maps to show the basic variables of Martian weather: temperature, pressure, humidity, and dust density.
An artist's concept of MRO using SHARAD to "look" under the surface of Mars
MRO's Shallow Subsurface Radar (SHARAD) experiment is designed to probe the internal structure of the Martian polar ice caps. It also gathers planet-wide information about underground layers of ice, rock and possibly liquid water that might be accessible from the surface. SHARAD uses HF radio waves between 15 and 25 MHz, a range that allows it to resolve layers as thin as 7 m (23 ft) to a maximum depth of 1 km (0.6 mi). It has a horizontal resolution of 0.3 to 3 km (0.2 to 1.9 mi). SHARAD is designed to operate in conjunction with the Mars ExpressMARSIS, which has lower resolution but penetrates to a much greater depth. Both SHARAD and MARSIS were made by the Italian Space Agency.
In addition to its imaging equipment, MRO carries a variety of engineering instruments. The Gravity Field Investigation Package measures variations in the Martian gravitational field through variations in the spacecraft's velocity. Velocity changes are detected by measuring doppler shifts in MRO's radio signals received on Earth. The package also includes sensitive onboard accelerometers used to deduce the in situ atmospheric density of Mars during aerobraking.
The Electra communications package is a UHFsoftware-defined radio (SDR) that provides a flexible platform for evolving relay capabilities. It is designed to communicate with other spacecraft as they approach, land, and operate on Mars. In addition to protocol controlled inter-spacecraft data links of 1 kbit/s to 2 Mbit/s, Electra also provides Doppler data collection, open loop recording and a highly accurate timing service based on a 5e−13 . Doppler information for approaching vehicles can be used for final descent targeting or descent and landing trajectory recreation. Doppler information on landed vehicles will also enable scientists to accurately determine the surface location of Mars landers and rovers. The two Mars Exploration Rover spacecraft currently on Mars utilize an earlier generation UHF relay radio providing similar functions through the Mars Odyssey orbiter. The Electra radio has proven its functionality by relaying information to and from the MER spacecraft, Phoenix Mars lander and Curiosity Rover.
The Optical Navigation Camera images the Martian moons, Phobos and Deimos, against background stars to precisely determine MRO's orbit. Although moon imaging is not mission critical, it was included as a technology test for future orbiting and landing of spacecraft. The Optical Navigation Camera was tested successfully in February and March 2006. There is a proposal to search for small moons, dust rings, and old orbiters with it.
The structure is made of mostly carbon composites and aluminum-honeycombed plates. The titanium fuel tank takes up most of the volume and mass of the spacecraft and provides most of its structural integrity. The spacecraft's total mass is less than 2,180 kg (4,810 lb) with an unfueled dry mass less than 1,031 kg (2,273 lb).
The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter solar panel
MRO gets all of its electrical power from two solar panels, each of which can move independently around two axes (up-down, or left-right rotation). Each solar panel measures 5.35 m × 2.53 m (17.6 ft × 8.3 ft) and has 9.5 m2 (102 sq ft) covered with 3,744 individual photovoltaic cells. Its high-efficiency triple junction solar cells are able to convert more than 26% of the Sun's energy directly into electricity and are connected together to produce a total output of 32 volts. At Mars, each of the panels produces more than 1,000 watts of power; in contrast, the panels would generate 3,000 watts in a comparable Earth orbit by being closer to the Sun.
MRO has two rechargeable nickel-hydrogen batteries used to power the spacecraft when it is not facing the Sun. Each battery has an energy storage capacity of 50 ampere-hours (180 kC). The full range of the batteries cannot be used due to voltage constraints on the spacecraft, but allows the operators to extend the battery life—a valuable capability, given that battery drain is one of the most common causes of long-term satellite failure. Planners anticipate that only 40% of the batteries' capacities will be required during the lifetime of the spacecraft.
MRO's main computer is a 133 MHz, 10.4 million transistor, 32-bit, RAD750 processor. This processor is a radiation-hardened version of a PowerPC 750 or G3 processor with a specially built motherboard. The RAD750 is a successor to the RAD6000. This processor may seem underpowered in comparison to a modern PC processor, but it is extremely reliable, resilient, and can function in solar flare-ravaged deep space. The operating system software is VxWorks and has extensive fault protection protocols and monitoring.
Data is stored in a 160 Gb (20 GB) flash memory module consisting of over 700 memory chips, each with a 256 Mbit capacity. This memory capacity is not actually that large considering the amount of data to be acquired; for example, a single image from the HiRISE camera can be as large as 28 Gb.
The Telecom Subsystem on MRO is the best digital communication system sent into deep space so far, and for the first time used capacity-approaching turbo-codes. The Electra communications package is a UHFsoftware-defined radio (SDR) that provides a flexible platform for evolving relay capabilities. It is designed to communicate with other spacecraft as they approach, land, and operate on Mars. The system consists of a very large (3 m (9.8 ft)) antenna, which is used to transmit data through the Deep Space Network via X-band frequencies at 8 GHz, and it demonstrates the use of the Ka band at 32 GHz for higher data rates. Maximum transmission speed from Mars is projected to be as high as 6 Mbit/s, a rate ten times higher than previous Mars orbiters. The spacecraft carries two 100-watt X-band amplifiers (one of which is a backup), one 35-watt Ka-band amplifier, and two Small deep space transponders (SDSTs).
Two smaller low-gain antennas are also present for lower-rate communication during emergencies and special events, such as launch and Mars Orbit Insertion. These antennas do not have focusing dishes and can transmit and receive from any direction. They are an important backup system to ensure that MRO can always be reached, even if its main antenna is pointed away from the Earth.
The Ka-band subsystem was used for demonstration purposes. Due to lack of spectrum at 8.41 GHz X-band, future high-rate deep space missions will use 32 GHz Ka-band. NASA Deep Space Network (DSN) implemented Ka-band receiving capabilities at all three of its complexes (Goldstone, Canberra and Madrid) over its 34-m beam-waveguide (BWG) antenna subnet. During the cruise phase, spacecraft Ka-band telemetry was tracked 36 times by these antennas proving functionality at all antennas. Ka-band tests were also planned during the science phase, but during aerobraking a switch failed, limiting the X-band high gain antenna to a single amplifier. If this amplifier fails all high-speed X-band communications will be lost. The Ka downlink is the only remaining backup for this functionality, and since the Ka-band capability of one of the SDST transponders has already failed, (and the other might have the same problem) JPL decided to halt all Ka-band demonstrations and hold the remaining capability in reserve.
By November 2013, the MRO had passed 200 terabits in the amount of science data returned. The data returned by the mission is more than three times the total data returned via NASA's Deep Space Network for all the other missions managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory over the past 10 years.
Propulsion and attitude control
Data comparison chart
The spacecraft uses a 1,175 L (258 imp gal; 310 US gal) fuel tank filled with 1,187 kg (2,617 lb) of hydrazinemonopropellant. Fuel pressure is regulated by adding pressurized helium gas from an external tank. Seventy percent of the propellant was used for orbital insertion, and it has enough propellant to keep functioning into the 2030s.
MRO has twenty rocket engine thrusters on board. Six large thrusters each produce 170 N (38 lbf) of thrust for a total of 1,020 N (230 lbf) meant mainly for orbital insertion. These thrusters were originally designed for the Mars Surveyor 2001 Lander. Six medium thrusters each produce 22 N (4.9 lbf) of thrust for trajectory correction maneuvers and attitude control during orbit insertion. Finally, eight small thrusters each produce 0.9 N (0.20 lbf) of thrust for attitude control during normal operations.
Four reaction wheels are also used for precise attitude control during activities requiring a highly stable platform, such as high-resolution imaging, in which even small motions can cause blurring of the image. Each wheel is used for one axis of motion. The fourth (skewed) wheel is a backup in case one of the other three wheels fails. Each wheel weighs 10 kg (22 lb) and can be spun as fast as 100 Hz or 6,000 rpm.
In order to determine the spacecraft's orbit and facilitate maneuvers, sixteen Sun sensors – eight primaries and eight backups – are placed around the spacecraft to calibrate solar direction relative to the orbiter's frame. Two star trackers, digital cameras used to map the position of catalogued stars, provide NASA with full, three-axis knowledge of the spacecraft orientation and attitude. A primary and backup Miniature Inertial Measurement Unit (MIMU), provided by Honeywell, measures changes to the spacecraft attitude as well as any non-gravitationally induced changes to its linear velocity. Each MIMU is a combination of three accelerometers and three ring-laser gyroscopes. These systems are all critically important to MRO, as it must be able to point its camera to a very high precision in order to take the high-quality pictures that the mission requires. It has also been specifically designed to minimize any vibrations on the spacecraft, so as to allow its instruments to take images without any distortions caused by vibrations.
Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter development and prime mission costs, by fiscal year
The total cost of the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter through the end of its prime mission was $716.6 million. Of this amount, $416.6 million was spent on spacecraft development, approximately $90 million for its launch, and $210 million for 5 years of mission operations. Since 2011, MRO's annual operations costs are, on average, $31 million per year, when adjusted for inflation.
Discoveries and photographs
Water ice in ice cap measured
Results published in 2009 of radar measurements of the north polar ice cap determined that the volume of water ice in the cap is 821,000 cubic kilometers (197,000 cu mi), equal to 30% of the Earth's Greenland ice sheet.
Ice exposed in new craters
Water ice excavated by an impact crater that formed between January and September 2008. The ice was identified spectroscopically using CRISM.
Radar results from SHARAD suggested that features termed lobate debris aprons (LDAs) contain large amounts of water ice. Of interest from the days of the Viking Orbiters, these LDA are aprons of material surrounding cliffs. They have a convex topography and a gentle slope; this suggests flow away from the steep source cliff. In addition, lobate debris aprons can show surface lineations just as rock glaciers on the Earth.SHARAD has provided strong evidence that the LDAs in Hellas Planitia are glaciers that are covered with a thin layer of debris (i.e. rocks and dust); a strong reflection from the top and base of LDAs was observed, suggesting that pure water ice makes up the bulk of the formation (between the two reflections). Based on the experiments of the Phoenix lander and the studies of the Mars Odyssey from orbit, water ice is known to exist just under the surface of Mars in the far north and south (high latitudes).
Chloride deposits in Terra Sirenum
Using data from Mars Global Surveyor, Mars Odyssey and the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, scientists have found widespread deposits of chloride minerals. Evidence suggests that the deposits were formed from the evaporation of mineral enriched waters. The research suggests that lakes may have been scattered over large areas of the Martian surface. Usually chlorides are the last minerals to come out of solution. Carbonates, sulfates, and silica should precipitate out ahead of them. Sulfates and silica have been found by the Mars rovers on the surface. Places with chloride minerals may have once held various life forms. Furthermore, such areas could preserve traces of ancient life.
Other aqueous minerals
In 2009, a group of scientists from the CRISM team reported on 9 to 10 different classes of minerals formed in the presence of water. Different types of clays (also called phyllosilicates) were found in many locations. The physilicates identified included aluminum smectite, iron/magnesium smectite, kaolinite, prehnite, and chlorite. Rocks containing carbonate were found around the Isidis basin. Carbonates belong to one class in which life could have developed. Areas around Valles Marineris were found to contain hydrated silica and hydrated sulfates. The researchers identified hydrated sulfates and ferric minerals in Terra Meridiani and in Valles Marineris. Other minerals found on Mars were jarosite, alunite, hematite, opal, and gypsum. Two to five of the mineral classes were formed with the right pH and sufficient water to permit life to grow.
The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter CTX and HiRISE cameras have photographed a number of avalanches off the scarps of the northern polar cap as they were occurring.
Martian avalanche and debris falls (HiRISE 2008)
A photo with scale demonstrates the size of the avalanche.
Image of Phoenix landing on Mars, as seen by HiRISE. Although in the image it appears to be descending into the crater, Phoenix actually landed 20 km (12 mi) away from it.
Tracks of the rover Opportunity, as seen by HiRISE. The white dots are places where the rover stopped to perform scientific observations or turned.
Opportunity as seen by HiRISE on January 29, 2009. Opportunity is on its way to Endeavour Crater, 17 km (11 mi) away at this point.
The Curiosity rover during atmospheric entry as seen by HiRISE on August 6, 2012. Supersonic parachute and backshell visible.
Flowing salty water
On August 4, 2011 (sol 2125), NASA announced that MRO had detected what appeared to be flowing salty water on the surface or subsurface of Mars. On September 28, 2015, this finding was confirmed at a special NASA news conference.
^Harrison, Tanya N.; Malin, Michael C.; Edgett, Kenneth S. (2009). "Present-day activity, monitoring, and documentation of gullies with the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) Context Camera (CTX)". Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs. 41 (7): 267. Bibcode:2009GSAA...41..267H.
^Chang, Kenneth (September 28, 2015). "NASA Says Signs of Liquid Water Flowing on Mars". The New York Times. Retrieved September 28, 2015. Christopher P. McKay, an astrobiologist at NASA's Ames Research Center, does not think the R.S.L.s are a very promising place to look. For the water to be liquid, it must be so salty that nothing could live there, he said. "The short answer for habitability is it means nothing," he said.
^Ojha, Lujendra; Wilhelm, Mary Beth; Murchie, Scott L.; McEwen, Alfred S.; et al. (September 28, 2015). "Spectral evidence for hydrated salts in recurring slope lineae on Mars". Nature Geoscience. 8 (11): 829–832. Bibcode:2015NatGe...8..829O. doi:10.1038/ngeo2546.
Payloads are separated by bullets ( · ), launches by pipes ( | ). Crewed flights are indicated in bold text. Uncatalogued launch failures are listed in italics. Payloads deployed from other spacecraft are denoted in parentheses.
The 2006 Madrid–Barajas Airport bombing occurred on 30 December 2006 when a van bomb exploded in the Terminal 4 parking area at the Madrid–Barajas Airport in Spain, killing two and injuring 52. On 9 January 2007, the Basque nationalist and separatist organisation ETA claimed responsibility for the attack. The attack, one of the most powerful carried out by ETA, damaged the airport terminal and destroyed the entire parking structure. The bombing ended a nine-month ceasefire declared by the armed organisation and prompted the government to halt plans for negotiations with the organisation. Despite the attack, ETA claimed that the ceasefire was still in place and regretted the death of civilians. The organisation eventually announced the end of the ceasefire in June 2007.
Ordered and planned by then head of commandos Miguel Garikoitz Aspiazu Rubina alias Txeroki, the attack was carried out by the "commando Elurra", whose members were arrested in early 2008 and sentenced for the attack in May 2010. Txeroki was arrested in November 2008 and is awaiting trial for the bombing.
On March 22, 2006 ETA announced a ceasefire. Following the announcement, the Spanish government led by José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero on one side and the armed organisation, as well as Batasuna, a Basque nationalist party banned for its ties with ETA, on the other, engaged in talks in order to put an end to the conflict between the two sides. The Basque Nationalist Party, then in charge of the Basque Government, also took part in the conversations. Most of the Basque and Spanish political parties, as well as international institutions, welcomed the announcement, except for the main opposition party People's Party, which called on the government to continue "fighting terrorism" and reject negotiations of any kind.
The three ETA members firing salvos during the 2006 Gudari Eguna
During the celebration of the 2006 Gudari Eguna in Aritxulegi, Gipuzkoa on September 23, three armed ETA members took part in the event and stated that the organisation would "keep on taking up arms until independence and socialism are achieved" in the Basque Country. The armed men also claimed that "the fight is not a thing of the past, it is the present and the future". The statement was regarded by some as intended to put pressure on the talks with the Spanish government, while others saw it as a declaration of ETA's ultimate intentions, making it clear that they would not disarm until every one of their goals had been completely achieved. Despite that, Rodriguez Zapatero stated that the Spanish government would still keep its offer for talks. One of the ETA members was Mattin Sarasola, who took part in the attack.
On October 24, a commando unit formed by at least five members of ETA stole around 300 revolvers and 50 pistols, as well as ammunition, from an arms warehouse in Vauvert, France, and on November 4, the Basque newspaper Gara released an ETA private document in which it warned the Spanish government that the "peace process" was "in crisis". After the bombing, the ABC newspaper reported that before the attack, ETA had reminded Rodríguez Zapatero about the 2004 Madrid train bombings as a way to pressure the Government. During the ceasefire, street violence around the Basque Country, known as kale borroka, did not stop.
According to Spanish police, the decision to break the truce may have come from a more violent side of ETA, opposed to any negotiations with the Spanish government, formed by members who joined ETA after participating in the kale borroka and led by Txeroki, who was in charge of all of the organisation's commandos since 2004.
Madrid has been one of the most targeted cities by ETA. Prior to the attack, 36 car bombs had gone off in the city in the previous 20 years and at least 119 people had been killed in attacks carried out by the armed organisation. Some of the most important attacks have been a bomb explosion inside a cafeteria on September 13, 1974, which killed 13 people, a triple bomb attack on July 29, 1979, that killed 7 people, a car bomb explosion on July 15, 1986, which killed 12 Civil Guards, as well as two car bombs that killed seven and six army members in 1993 and 1995, respectively. The Madrid–Barajas airport had also been the location of ETA attacks on July 29, 1979, when three civilians were killed, and on August 27, 2002, when a car bomb exploded on the second floor of the Terminal 2 parking, causing only material damage, after a warning call from the armed organisation.
In two meetings held at the Baztan valley in Navarre in the summer of 2006, Txeroki, then head of commandos, ordered fellow ETA members Mattin Sarasola, Igor Portu and Mikel San Sebastián to carry out the bombing. The three members had been born in the Navarrese town of Lesaka and were part of the "commando Elurra" (Basque: snow), previously known as "Goiztiarrak", formed in 2002. Until 2006, the commando had the only task of helping members of ETA cross the Spanish-France border and transporting explosives. The cell was also linked with a car bomb attack against a discothèque in the town of Urdax on February 14, 2006, as well as with another attack against a discothèque in Santesteban on December 21, 2005. The leader of the commando group, Joseba Aranibar alias "Basurde" and Joseba Iturbide, who was also part of the cell, did not take part in the meetings. During the first meeting, Txeroki gave instructions on how to carry out the attack and told the members of the commando which secondary roads they should take to arrive to the airport and avoid being caught by security forces. After the meeting, Sarasola took part in the September 23 event along with Joseba Iturbide and an unknown member of the organisation.
In October, Sarasola, Portu and San Sebastián rehearsed the route to the airport twice. The first rehearsal was made with San Sebastián's personal car and the second one, on October 21, with a Volkswagen Polo rented in Irun, Gipuzkoa. Leaving from Navarre, the commando members succeeded in parking the Volkswagen Polo in the Terminal 4 car park. After the rehearsals, they met again with Txeroki, who gave them the final instructions for the attack, including the day the attack would take place, as well as how to dress on the day of the bombing. Txeroki asked Sarasola to wear a wig, a cap, as well as a face mask on his nose. Sarasola would also have to carry a suitcase and a crutch, pretending to be lame on one of his legs. He also asked Sarasola to buy a mobile phone with which Portu would warn of the bombing, and told them which places they should phone: the DYA headquarters, a Basque roadside assistance association, in Bilbao, Madrid's firemen and the emergency telephone number 112. Nonetheless, Portu would eventually also call a Basque emergency number.
On December 27, Portu, Sarasola and San Sebastián stole a Renault Trafic at gunpoint in the French town of Luz Ardiden and held its owner for three days in a cabin located in the Pyrenees. During that time, he was forced to send mobile messages to his mother, stating that he was all right. He was released 40 minutes after the attack. Commando leader Joseba Aranibar loaded the van with explosives, while Sarasola and San Sebastián spent the night at the cabin.
On the morning of December 29, Aranibar gave the van to Sarasola and San Sebastian. Following the route they had planned, Sarasola drove the van while San Sebastián was driving a motorbike in front of the van. Meanwhile, Portu arrived with another vehicle to a point located 50 kilometres from the airport. Portu met Sarasola and gave him the equipment he needed in order to disguise himself. At 6:51 pm, Sarasola parked the van in the unit D of the Terminal 4 car park and triggered the bomb. He then took a taxi to the town of San Sebastián de los Reyes, where he got rid of the disguise. From there he took another taxi and met Portu, who was driving San Sebastian's motorbike. They then met San Sebastian and they all went back to Lesaka. On the next day, Portu went to the city of San Sebastián, from where he made the warning calls.
Details of the bombing
Evacuated passengers gathering outside the terminal after the explosion
At 07:53 am, Igor Portu used a mobile phone to call the DYA headquarters to warn them that a "powerful van bomb" would explode at 09:00. Three minutes later he called the firemen of Madrid, between 07:52 and 07:59 he phoned Gara and finally the SOS/DEIAK emergency number of San Sebastián, this time from a telephone box. Police immediately cordoned off the car park, with hundreds of people being evacuated from the terminal through jetways and gathered outside on the airport ramps.
At 08:59 the Renault Trafic went off, destroying much of section D of the parking lot of the airport's newly built Terminal 4 and sending a massive column of smoke into the air. The terminal, designed by Antonio Lamela and Richard Rogers, had been inaugurated just a few months before, on February 5, 2006. According to reports, the van was carrying 500 to 800 kilograms (1,100 to 1,800 lb) of an unknown kind of explosive, probably a mix of ammonium nitrate and hexogen, becoming the third most powerful explosive device ever used by ETA. The explosion demolished almost all of the five floors of the car park and produced around 40 tones of debris, with the zone being compared by Spanish authorities to the World Trade Center ground zero, as well as damaging at least 1300 vehicles parked in the terminal. The terminal building was also affected.
As a result of the explosion, two Ecuadorian citizens, Carlos Alonso Palate and Diego Armando Estacio, who were taking a nap inside their cars and did not manage to evacuate died. It took five days for the rescue teams to reach the buried bodies. 52 other people were injured, with Samur emergency services setting up a field hospital in the terminal in order to assist those injured, mainly from flying glass and damage to their ears due to the shock wave. Hospitals across Madrid received 11 people slightly injured in the blast, with only three of them remaining in the hospitals at the end of the day. The bombing represented ETA's first deadly attack since 2003.
Carlos Alonso Palate, 35, was born in the town of Ambato, in the province of Tungurahua. He arrived in Spain in 2002 and lived in Valencia, where he worked in a plastic factory, and was in Madrid to pick up a friend's wife who had come to spend New Year's Eve in Spain. He was buried in the small town of Picaihua on January 6. The other victim, Diego Armando Estacio, 19, was born in Machala, El Oro. He arrived in Madrid in 2001, where he worked as a construction worker, and was at the airport to pick up some of his girlfriend's relatives. He was buried in his home town on January 8.
Excavator removing debris from the blast on January 24
After the blast, Aena immediately closed Terminal 4 and hundreds of flights were interrupted. Flights at the other three terminals were not affected. At 2:00pm, some flights started departing, while Aena asked passengers to only use public transport in order to go to the terminal. After several hours, regular air traffic resumed and by 7:00pm, 388 out of the 575 scheduled had already departed from the terminal.
During the following days, firemen and emergency services kept on removing debris at the scene of the blast and around 25 tones of it had been removed by January 21. The huge amount of debris made it difficult to rescue the bodies of the dead. The body of Carlos Alonso Palate was found inside his car on January 4, and was repatriated to Ecuador on the following day, when Diego Armando Estacio's body was found, who was sent back home on January 7. Both bodies departed from the Torrejón Air Base on planes arranged by the Spanish government, who also granted the Spanish nationality to descendants of the dead.
Minister of the InteriorAlfredo Pérez Rubalcaba condemned the attack and stated that "violence is incompatible with dialogue in any democracy" while Rodríguez Zapatero ordered the government to put all peace talks with ETA "on hold" and condemned the "useless and ridiculous step" that the organization had taken, although he did not announce the end of the peace process. Just a few hours earlier Rodríguez Zapatero had delivered his end of year message and had claimed that "in one year we will be better than today". Mariano Rajoy asked the government not to negotiate with ETA once again and said he would back the government only if it concentrated on eliminating it. Other Spanish political parties, as well as the Basque government, condemned the attack, although the latter stated that they would like the peace process to continue. Spokesman for Batasuna Arnaldo Otegi refused to condemn the attack and denied that the process was damaged and considered it "just another event" of all the ones that were "blocking" the process, and accused the government of not "making any steps", referring to the situation of ETA prisoner Iñaki de Juana Chaos, who was then on a hunger strike. However, Pérez Rubalcaba announced that the process had definitely been broken.
On the following day of the attack, hundreds of members of the Association of Terrorism Victims staged a protest outside the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party headquarters in Madrid, shouting slogans demanding Rodriguez Zapatero's resignation. Earlier, the association president Francisco José Alcaraz asked the government to expel the Communist Party of the Basque Homelands from all regional institutions in case they did not condemn the attack. He also stated that "civil rebellion will remain unstoppable until the terrorists and all their plans have been destroyed". The association held a bigger demonstration on January 14 in Madrid.
On January 9, 2007, in a statement sent to Gara, ETA claimed responsibility for the attack and insisted that the March ceasefire was still in place despite the bombing. The organisation extended its solidarity to the "collateral damage" caused by the bombing, stating that the "objective of this armed action was not to cause victims" and condemned the fact that the airport had not been totally evacuated. ETA also accused the government of creating obstacles to a democratic process. On January 6, a demonstration in San Sebastian in favour of ETA prisoners and in support of a democratic solution to the process ended up in riots. ETA eventually announced the end of the ceasefire in another statement on June 5, 2007, and resumed its attacks.
Memorial held in Bilbao
On the evening of the attack, a minute of silence was held across Spanish town halls. On January 14, several senior Basque politicians including Patxi Lopez gathered in Bilbao, along with the representative of the Ecuadorian people in the Basque Country, in order to pay tribute to the dead, and on January 29, hundreds of people gathered at the House of America in Madrid. Then-Ecuadorian Minister for Foreign Affairs María Fernanda Espinosa participated in the event, along with then-Spanish secretary for Ibero-AmericaTrinidad Jiménez. On the day the car park was re-inaugurated, authorities unveiled two busts in the exact park places the victim's cars had been parked.
The van had been placed in the second floor of the car park, and as a result of the blast a 90% of the building was demolished. The reconstruction of the car park started on January 21, while the damage caused inside the terminal, mainly broken windows as well as distorted structures, had already been repaired by the end of January. Works lasted six months and the car park was inaugurated again by then-Minister of Public Works Magdalena Álvarez on September 20, 2007. Many businessmen attended the event, which also paid tribute to the dead. The reconstruction had a total cost of 24.5 million euros, and 15 million more were used to compensate the damage caused to the 2,100 cars parked there at the time of the attack, as well as to repair the terminal building.
Arrest and trials
All the suspects involved in the attack were arrested during 2008. On January 7, Igor Portu and Mattin Sarasola were arrested by the Civil Guard in a road close to Arrasate, Gipuzkoa. At the time of the arrest, they both were carrying a revolver. According to reports by other terrorists, they were placed in patrol cars and were beaten by the officers guarding them. While being handcuffed behind their backs, they were taken separately at an undetermined site, where they were punched and kicked, in addition to receiving death threats. A handcuffed Sarasola was thrown down a hillside before having a gun aimed at his head. The Ministry of Interior denied the claims of torture and attributed the injuries to the moment the terrorists resisted arrest and attempted to escape. On the following day, Pérez Rubalcaba announced that Portu and Sarasola were the perpetrators of the airport attack, after they had confessed so while being in custody. On February 16, Joseba Iturbide and Mikel San Sebastian were arrested in the French town of Saint-Jean-de-Luz, Pyrénées-Atlantiques along with fellow ETA members Jose Antonio Martinez Mur and Asuncion Bengoechea.
Finally, Txeroki, Spain's most wanted man at that time, was arrested in Cauterets, Hautes-Pyrénées on November 17.
On May 3, 2010 Portu, Sarasola and San Sebastián appeared at the Spanish National High Court in Madrid for their role in the attack. All of them refused to address the court, with Sarasola stating that he did not recognise that "fascist court" and said he was "not going to take part in it". On May 21, they were found guilty of two murders and 48 murder attempts (the final sentence stated that there were 48 wounded people), and each of them was sentenced to 1,040 years of prison, although the maximum a person can serve for a terrorism conviction under the Spanish law is 40 years.
On October 25, 2010, 15 Civil Guards went on trial in San Sebastián in relation to the torture suffered by Portu and Sarasola. On December 30, four of them were sentenced to prison: two for four years, and the other two for two years. The rest of the officers were found not guilty and were acquitted. It was the first time since 2001 that Civil Guards had been sentenced with claims of torture against members of ETA.
The channel was launched on 15 November 2006, at 12:00 GMT. It had aimed to begin broadcasting in June 2006 but had to postpone its launch because its HDTV technology was not ready. The channel was due to be called Al Jazeera International, but the name was changed nine months before the launch because one of the channel's backers argued that original Arabic-language channel already had an international scope.
The channel was anticipated to reach around 40 million households, but it far exceeded that launch target, reaching 80 million homes. By 2009, The service could be viewed in every major European market and was available to 130 million homes in over 100 countries via cable and satellite, according to a spokeswoman for the network in Washington.
The channel, however, has poor penetration in the American market, where it has been carried by only one satellite service and a small number of cable networks. Al Jazeera English later began a campaign to enter the North American market, including a dedicated website. It became available to some cable subscribers in New York in August 2011, having previously been available as an option for some viewers in Washington, D.C., Ohio and Los Angeles. The channel primarily reaches the United States via its live online streaming. It is readily available on most major Canadian television providers including Rogers and Bell TV after the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission approved the channel for distribution in Canada on 26 November 2009.
Al Jazeera English and Iran's state-run Press TV were the only international English-language television broadcasters with journalists reporting from inside both Gaza and Israel during the 2008–2009 Israel-Gaza conflict. Foreign press access to Gaza has been limited via either Egypt or Israel. However, Al Jazeera's reporters Ayman Mohyeldin and Sherine Tadros were already inside Gaza when the conflict began and the network's coverage was often compared to CNN's initial coverage from inside Baghdad in the early days of the 1991 Gulf War.
The channel may also be viewed online. It recommends online viewing at its own website or at its channel on YouTube. Al Jazeera English HD launched in the United Kingdom on Freeview on 26 November 2013, and began streaming in HD on YouTube in 2015.
On 1 January 2020, Al Jazeera English debuted a new major graphics package for the first time since the channel launched and a remodeled main Doha studio, the last main studio of the channel's three in Doha, London and Washington D.C. to receive an upgrade since the channel's launch in 2006.
On 3 January 2013, Al Jazeera Media Network announced that it had purchased Current TV in the United States and would be launching an American news channel. 60% of the channel's programming would be produced in America while 40% would be from Al Jazeera English. That was later changed at the request of pay-television providers to almost 100% American programing. Regardless Al Jazeera America maintained a close working relationship with Al Jazeera English. The channel aired Newshour in the morning and midday hours and cut to live Al Jazeera English coverage of large breaking international news stories outside of that. Al Jazeera English programmes Witness, Earthrise, Listening Post, Talk To Al JazeeraAl Jazeera Correspondent and 101 East along with Al Jazeera Investigates regularly aired on Al Jazeera America.
On 13 January 2016, Al Jazeera America announced that the network would be terminated on 12 April 2016, citing the "economic landscape".
Al Jazeera UK / Europe
In 2014, Al Jazeera moved its UK London operations including its newsroom, studios and shows from Knightsbridge to its new space on floor 16 of The Shard. The last day of broadcasting from the Knightsbridge studios was September, 12th 2014. The space was officially opened on 3 November 2014, with the first Newshour broadcast on 10 October 2014. The new facility is capable of running an entire channel, independently of the Doha hub.
In 2013 Al Jazeera Media Network began planning a new channel called Al Jazeera UK. If launched, the British channel would broadcast for five hours during prime time as cut-in UK content aired on Al Jazeera English. It would in effect function much like RT UK and RT America does in the United States.
In addition to those listed below, Al Jazeera English runs various programmes that are either entirely non-recurrent or consist of just a limited number of parts (miniseries format known as special series). All programmes, including former shows are shown in their entirety on Al Jazeera's website and YouTube.
Current programmes on the channel are:
Listening Post – analysis of how the other news organizations are covering the stories of the week, plus examination of viewer-submitted news. Hosted from London by Richard Gizbert.
World news live from Al Jazeera's Doha broadcast centre
World news live from Al Jazeera's London broadcast centre
Newshour – an hour of world news and sport hosted from both of Al Jazeera's broadcast centres.
Newsgrid − an interactive news and live post. Launched on 14 November 2016 as part Of Al Jazeera English's 10 Year Anniversary Of broadcast. Also Airs On Facebook Live, aljazeera.com and the channel's YouTube Channel.
TechKnow – weekly show showcasing bright spots and innovations in the world of science and technology in the United States and how they are changing lives. Segments are recorded in the field by a group of young, tech-savvy contributors with diverse backgrounds in science and technology.
- a weekly discussion show moderated by Steven Clemons Steve Clemons at the Al Jazeera's studios in Washington, DC. With different guests each week, the show delves into "the big issues" facing American society.
The Stream – a discussion programme focused on social media, daily from Monday to Thursday. Hosted by Femi Oke and Malika Bilal, usually with one guest in the studio and a couple on Skype. An issue, itself often viewer-generated, is discussed by the team and viewers can contribute with comments on Twitter or Facebook, with some occasionally invited to join in on Skype.
Talk to Al Jazeera – extended studio interviews with people of influence from around the world:
Viewfinder – Fresh perspectives through the lens of local filmmakers from around the globe.
Witness – the daily documentary-slot for films by the best of the world's independent film-makers. The strand aims to shine a light on the events and people long-forgotten by the global media and on those that never merited a mention in the first place.
UpFront – hosted by Mehdi Hasan, discussion, debate and analysis programme from Washington, D.C.
These include programmes that have not had a new episode announced since 2014.
48 – weekly show hosted by Teymoor Nabili; Asian politics, business and current affairs
In addition to its two main broadcast centres, Al Jazeera English itself has 21 bureaux around the world that gather and produce news. It also shares resources with its Arabic-language sister channel's 42 bureaux, Al Jazeera Balkan's bureaux and Al Jazeera Turk's bureaux for 70 bureaux. This is a significant difference from the present trend:
"The mainstream American networks have cut their bureaux to the bone.... They're basically only in London now. Even CNN has pulled back. I remember in the '80s when I covered these events there would be a truckload of American journalists and crews and editors and now Al Jazeera outnumbers them all.... That's where, in the absence of alternatives, Al Jazeera English can fill a vacuum, simply because we're going in the opposite direction."
Al Jazeera English uses a combination of full-time 'staffers' and local freelancers. So long as the journalists are appearing – or are providing credited commentaries – regularly on-air, no distinction has been made as to their contractual arrangements. However, those who have received a recent on-air profile and whose names therefore appear in bold, may well be assumed to be on the staff.
On-air staff currently working for the station (previous employer in brackets) include:
The late veteran British broadcaster David Frost joined Al Jazeera English in 2005 to host his show Frost Over the World.
Former BBC and CNN anchor Riz Khan, who previously had been the host of the CNN talk show Q&A, also joined. He hosts his shows Riz Khan and Riz Khan's One on One.
Former U.S. Marine Josh Rushing joined Al Jazeera in September 2005. He had been the press officer for the United States Central Command during the 2003 Invasion of Iraq, and in that role had been featured in the documentary Control Room. When subsequently joining Al Jazeera, Rushing commented that "In a time when American media has become so nationalized, I'm excited about joining an organization that truly wants to be a source of global information...." Rushing worked from the Washington DC broadcasting centre until the formation of Al Jazeera America, he now works from AJAM's San Francisco hub.
Former CNN and BBC news anchorwoman and award-winning journalist Veronica Pedrosa also joined the team, along with CNN producer James Wright, and Kieran Baker, a former editor and producer for CNN, who had been acting general manager, Communications and Public Participation for ICANN. On 2 December 2005, Stephen Cole, a senior anchor on BBC World and Click Online presenter, announced he was joining Al Jazeera International.
The network announced on 12 January 2006 that former Nightline correspondent Dave Marash would be the co-anchor from their Washington studio. Marash described his new position as "the most interesting job on Earth".
On 6 February 2006, it was announced that the former BBC reporter Rageh Omaar would host the weeknight documentary series, Witness.
The managing director for Al Jazeera English was previously Tony Burman, who replaced Nigel Parsons in May 2008. The current managing director is Al Anstey.
In mid 2014 Al Jazeera English froze employment of both permanent and freelance staff for its Qatar network and cut freelance pay rates by 30-40% without warning, while at the same time Al Jazeera lodged a $150 million claim for compensation against Egypt, arguing that by arresting and attacking Al Jazeera journalists, seizing the broadcaster's property and jamming its signal, the Egyptian government has violated its rights as a foreign investor in the country and put the $90 million it has invested in Egypt since 2001 at risk.
Al Jazeera Investigative Unit
Formed in 2010, in its own words: the role of Al Jazeera Investigations is not to report the news, but to make the news.
The Unit, is based at the Network headquarters in Doha, but also has representation in London and Washington, DC. The unit is an Al Jazeera Media Network asset and its reports appear equally on the other channels, tailored appropriately for the relevant language and audience. The documentaries are presented as specials under their own strand: Al Jazeera Investigates.
The Unit's investigations have included the documentary What Killed Arafat? This film won a CINE Golden Eagle Award and was nominated for a BAFTA. In 2013, Al Jazeera released a follow-up named "Killing Arafat" which revealed findings of scientific analysis of the exhumed remains of the Palestinian leader that discovered traces of polonium in his bones. The Arafat findings led news agendas globally.
Other major investigations have included:
How to Sell a Massacre, in which concealed cameras record an Australian political party promising to soften anti-gun laws while seeking millions in political funding from America's gun lobby.
Generation Hate, which exposes secret links between one of France's largest political parties and a movement calling for the expulsion of Muslims from Europe.
Football's Wall of Silence, which investigates the deadly scandal of long-term sexual abuse of young players in British football.
Broken Dreams: The Boeing 787, which revealed Boeing's "Dreamliner" workers feared to fly the plane they build, citing quality concerns and alleging drug use on the job.
The current Manager of Investigative Journalism for the Al Jazeera Media Network is Phil Rees. Before that, it was Clayton Swisher. Other leading figures include: Peter Charley, Will Thorne, Deborah Davies, Will Jordan, Simon Boazman, David Harrison, Kevin Hirten and Jason Gwynne.
The channel is available in many countries, mostly via satellite, sometimes via cable. The channel is also available online. Al Jazeera English provides a free HD stream on its website for unlimited viewing. It is available free worldwide. They also provide a free stream on their YouTube page. Previously, before Al Jazeera provided an official stream, a low quality RealVideo stream was available for viewing. Al Jazeera news segments are frequently included on the American public television program Worldfocus. Al Jazeera can also be streamed on any iOS or Android device with an internet connection using a free application.
Along with a free unlimited high-quality stream on the official Al Jazeera English website, Online subscriptions allowing unlimited viewing may be purchased from Jump TV, RealPlayer, and VDC. Al Jazeera English is also available on YouTube. Headlines from Al Jazeera English are available on Twitter.
Al Jazeera English's website also contains news reports and full episodes of their programs that can be viewed for free on their website. The videos are hosted by YouTube, where viewers can also go to find the videos.
Al Jazeera English is available in the UK and Ireland on Freeview channel 235, Sky channels 513 and 880, Freesat channel 203 and Virgin Media channel 622.
The channel initially began test streaming Al Jazeera English (then called "Al Jazeera International") in March 2006 on Hot Bird, Astra1E, Hispasat, AsiaSat3S, Eutelsat 28A and Panamsat PAS 10. Telenors Thor, Türksat and Eutelsat 25A were added to the satellites carrying it. Eutelsat 28A carried the test stream on frequency 11.681 under the name "AJI".
In New Zealand, Al Jazeera English is available 24 hours a day on the Kordia operated free-to-air DVB-T terrestrial network since October 2013. Prior to the December 2012 analog switchoffTriangle TV re-broadcast various Al Jazeera programmes in Auckland on its free-to-air UHF channel. TV One was going to replace BBC World with this service during their off-air hours of 01:30 to 06:00 from 1 April 2013, however opted to run infomercials instead.
In April 2010, Al Jazeera English was taken off air in Singtel TV Singapore with unspecified reasons, according to the official Al Jazeera English website.
On 7 December 2010, Al Jazeera said its English language service has got a downlink license to broadcast in India. Satellite and cable companies would therefore be allowed to broadcast Al Jazeera in the country. The channel launched on Dish TV in November 2011, and is considering a Hindi-language channel.
With Al Jazeera's coverage of the Egyptian Revolution of 2011, the channel drew acclaim and received renewed attention. The New York Times reported on 1 February 2011 that 1.6 million U.S. viewers had tuned in via Internet stream, and stated that new discussions were underway with carriers. The following month, it was announced that Al Jazeera entered carriage negotiations with Comcast and Time Warner Cable.Salon.com described the channel's English-language coverage as "mandatory viewing for anyone interested in the world-changing events currently happening in Egypt", while Huffington Post contributor Jeff Jarvis claimed it was "un-American" for operators to not carry the network. When Al Jazeera covered the Libyan Civil War, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton noted an increasing American audience for the network, saying that "viewership of Al Jazeera is going up in the United States because it's real news. You may not agree with it, but you feel like you're getting real news around the clock instead of a million commercials and—you know—arguments between talking heads and the kind of stuff that we do on our news which—you know—is not particularly informative to us, let alone foreigners."
On 1 February 2011, Internet appliance Roku posted on its Facebook page that the English-language Al Jazeera Live would be streaming on Roku devices through a private channel called Newscaster and also through the BBC channel. It permitted the announcement following unrest in Egypt so American viewers can watch the latest events going on in the Middle East. A Roku user must add the private channel Newscaster from the Roku website.
On 1 August 2011, Al Jazeera English began airing 23 hours a day in New York City as part of a sublet agreement with cable channel RISE, a former Spanish-language network, which is carried on WRNN-TV's DT2 subchannel (the other hours were used to meet FCC E/I and local programming guidelines). The network aired on Time Warner Cable on channel 92 and on Verizon FiOS on channel 481.
On 2 January 2013, Al Jazeera announced that it had acquired the U.S.-based cable TV channel Current TV for a reported $500 million. With this acquisition, Al Jazeera launched a new channel, called Al Jazeera America, with a heavy dose of U.S. domestic news along with Al Jazeera English programming and news, to an estimated 40 million U.S. households—putting it in direct competition with CNN, MSNBC and Fox News Channel.
Due to contracts with U.S. cable and satellite carriers for Al Jazeera America the official Al Jazeera English live stream was geo-blocked in the United States on 18 August 2013. With the launch of Al Jazeera America, Al Jazeera English was excluded from all US services carrying or providing the channel, including YouTube, with Al Jazeera America material replacing all Al Jazeera English video content and live streams. Most Al Jazeera English video content was no longer officially available in the United States.
In April 2014 the Al Jazeera English show Empire wasn't geo-blocked in the United States. Shortly after the programs Indian Hospital (AJE show)|Indian Hospital,
Viewfinder (AJE show)|Viewfinder, Lifelines (AJE show)|Lifelines and Head to Head were available also. These programs were the only AJE shows officially non-geoblocked for American viewing during the time that Al Jazeera America was in existence.
With the closure of Al Jazeera America in April 2016 it was expected that the official live stream of Al Jazeera English and access to its programmes would eventually be restored to the United States. The online live stream of Al Jazeera English was made available to viewers in the United States once again in September 2016.
Al Jazeera English journalists Egyptian detainment
In December 2013, three Al Jazeera English journalists, Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed, were arrested in their Cairo Marriott hotel rooms. They were detained on charges of delivering "false news" and "aiding a terrorist organization" in Egypt following the 2013 Egyptian coup d'état. Al Jazeera was one of several websites to which the Egyptian government blocked access after accusing the network of ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, which was removed from power during the 2013 coup. Egypt has been accused of limiting freedom of expression in an attempt to suppress opposition to president al-Sisi.
The crew has had court trials that have been adjourned over 10 times where questionable evidence including video from other news organizations claimed to be from Al Jazeera English, inaudible audio recordings, pictures from a family vacation, a music video and video of sheep had been presented as evidence. The trial has been called out by free press groups and rights groups as a sham. The former Cairo Bureau chief from Al Jazeera English now works for sister channel AJ+ after the shutdown of the bureau. During the detainment of the journalists Al Jazeera along with the BBC and other major news organizations launched the Twitter and social media campaign #FreeAJStaff. The campaign included moments of silence while holding the hashtag as well as protesting at Egyptian embassies in various countries among other things. Calls from the United Nations, European Union and the United States for the journalists to be released were ignored.
On 23 June 2014, the three journalists were found guilty by an Egyptian court. Greste and Fahmy were sentenced to 7 years in prison while Mohamed was sentenced to 10 years. The ruling was denounced by fellow journalists, including some at BBC, CNN, ABC Australia and most other major news outlets along with world leaders from Australia, Canada, The United States, United Nations, Switzerland and the United Kingdom primarily because they were found guilty based on no actual evidence in a case that has been deemed politically motivated and also because the ruling was seen as an attack on press freedom. The response was especially negative on the part of United States Secretary of State John Kerry who a day earlier was in Egypt and was made a promise of press freedom by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. The ruling has resulted in many negative stories in print, online and on television by various news outlets around the world calling the Egyptian justice system a kangaroo court and calling the Egyptian government authoritarian.
There were various calls for amnesty, clemancy and pardons by various governments and news agencies all of which were declined by the Egyptian government who claimed that their justice system was independent and to respect the courts decision and stay out of Egyptian affairs. There were also calls for the United States to end or hold funding for the Egyptian military in response to the case. Peter Greste was released from prison and deported back to Australia on 1 February 2015.
On 29 August 2015, Fahmy, Greste and Mohamed were sentenced to 3 years in prison in a decision heavily criticized internationally. The Government of Canada worked to have Fahmy pardoned and deported. On 23 September 2015, Fahmy and Mohamed were pardoned by Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi along with 100 other people and released from prison.
Expulsion from China
Al Jazeera English's longtime China correspondent Melissa Chan was expelled from the country in 2012. The Chinese government did not provide any public reasons but was known to have been unhappy over a documentary the channel had aired on China's prison system. On 8 May 2012, reporters from the Beijing press corps asked about the expulsion at the Chinese Foreign Ministry's daily press briefing. Officials did not provide an explanation, and censored most of the questions when they published their official transcript. Chan later worked at Al Jazeera America.
As with Al Jazeera's Arabic counterpart, the network has received criticism from having bias from several sides.
Allegations of Anti-American bias
Al Jazeera English has frequently been criticized for having an anti-American bias, although some commentators[who?] have asserted that this has been lessened over time.
Emmy award-winning journalist Dave Marash, who served as a veteran correspondent for ABC's Nightline, resigned from his position as Washington anchor for Al Jazeera English in 2008. Marash cited "reflexive adversarial editorial stance" against Americans and "anti-American bias".
According to the media scholar Marwan M. Kraidy, when launching the English network, Al Jazeera framed the new channel as a competitor to BBC and CNN, but with coverage oriented towards the Global South.
It is often unclear whether recent discussions of anti-American bias at Al Jazeera are referring also to Al Jazeera English or only to Al Jazeera's Arabic-language channel. There are significant differences in tone between the English and Arabic-language channels. (According to bilingual Palestinian journalist Daoud Kuttab, "The English channel uses more neutral terminology; the Arab channel is much harsher.") An example of this is a 2011 claim by Bill O'Reilly that Al Jazeera is "anti-Semitic" and "anti-American" and a subsequent defense of Al Jazeera against these claims made by former Al Jazeera English anchor Dave Marash on the O'Reilly Factor. Another example concerns statements by former US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who in April 2004 denounced Al-Jazeera's Arabic-language coverage of the Iraq War as "vicious, inaccurate and inexcusable", but took a more conciliatory tone in a 2011 interview for Frost Over The World, Al Jazeera English's news and public affairs program hosted by David Frost, praising the network as "an important means of communication in the world". The government of which Rumsfeld was part had deliberately targeted Al Jazeera journalists in Iraq and Afghanistan, and discussed bombing its headquarters in Doha.[page needed]
On 12 October 2008, Al Jazeera English broadcast interviews with people attending a Sarah PalinUnited States presidential election rally in St. Clairsville, Ohio, with interviewees making comments about Barack Obama such as "he regards white people as trash" and "I'm afraid if he wins, the blacks will take over". The report received over two million views on YouTube. Following this, The Washington Post ran an op-ed, claiming the news channel was deliberately encouraging "anti-American sentiment overseas", which was criticized by Al Jazeera as "a gratuitous and uninformed shot at Al Jazeera's motives", as the report was just one of "hundreds of hours of diverse coverage". Criticism of an Anti-American bias has been dwindling as their coverage of the Arab Spring received wide acclaim and calls for the network to be added to U.S. television.
Subsequent endeavours have been seen as tests by Al Jazeera to see whether it can get rid of the hostility Americans feel toward it. One example was a day's worth of special coverage marking the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001. Al Jazeera has also launched The Stream, a show based in Washington D.C. that discusses social media, which targets an American audience. On 2 January 2013, Al Jazeera purchased the American channel Current TV and rebranded as Al Jazeera America in August 2013.
Abdul-Mageed, MM, and Herring, SC, (2008) In: F. Sudweeks, H. Hrachovec, and C. Ess (Eds.), Proceedings of Cultural Attitudes Towards Technology and Communication 2008 (CATaC'08), Nîmes, France, 24–27 June Arabic and English News Coverage on Al Jazeera.NET Muhammad Abdul-Mageed, 10 March 2008
Philip Seib (ed.): Al Jazeera English. Global News in a Changing World. Palgrave Macmillan, April 2012, ISBN 9780230340206
Josh Rushing: Mission Al-Jazeera: Build a Bridge, Seek the Truth, Change the World. Palgrave Macmillan, 2007
Tine Ustad Figenschou: Al Jazeera and the Global Media Landscape: The South is Talking Back. Routledge, 2013
^Marwan Kraidy, Marwan (2008). "Al Jazeera and Al Jazeera English: A Comparative Institutional Analysis". In Kugelman, Michael (ed.). Kuala Lumpur calling: Al Jazeera English in Asia. Washington, DC: Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. ISBN 978-1-933549-44-6. OCLC326860884.
United Arab Emirates holds its first-ever elections.
The first elections ever to be held in the United Arab Emirates took place on 16 December, 18 December and 20 December 2006. Half of the Federal National Council, which has forty members, were elected.
Abu Dhabi and Fujairah voted on 16 December; Dubai and Ras al-Khaimah on 18 December; Sharjah, Ajm?n and Umm al-Quwain on 20 December. Only 6,689 of the more than 300,000 citizens over 18 years were allowed to vote, 1,163 of them women; all of these voters were chosen by the rulers of the seven emirates. One of the four seats in Abu Dhabi went to a woman, Amal Abdullah al-Kubaissi.
Among the twenty members chosen by the Electoral College, one woman was elected. Eight women were appointed by the rulers of the seven emirates and, with the exception of Umm al-Qaiwain, at least one woman was appointed by each emirate. Women therefore constituted 22.5% of the Council’s membership, a significant increase.
Three among those appointed were from Dubai.
The government has expressed that future elections will be more participatory, including that the powers of the Federal National Council will be expanded and that the right to vote will be granted to all citizens
The TV channel, Al Jazeera English launches worldwide.
Al Jazeera English is a Qatari pay television news channel owned and operated by Al Jazeera Media Network, headquartered in Doha, Qatar. It is the first English-language news channel to be headquartered in the Middle East. Instead of being run centrally, news management rotates between broadcasting centers in Doha and London.
The channel was launched on 15 November 2006 at 12:00 GMT. It had aimed to begin broadcasting in June 2006 but had to postpone its launch because its HDTV technology was not ready. The channel was due to be called Al Jazeera International, but the name was changed nine months before the launch because “one of the Qatar-based channel’s backers decided that the broadcaster already had an international scope with its original Arabic outlet”.
The channel had expected to reach around 40 million households, but it far exceeded that launch target, reaching 80 million homes. As of 2009, Al Jazeera’s English-language service can be viewed in every major European market and is available to 130 million homes in over 100 countries via cable and satellite, according to Molly Conroy, a spokeswoman for the network in Washington.
The channel is noted for its poor penetration in the American market, where it was carried by only one satellite service and a small number of cable networks. Al Jazeera English later began a campaign to enter the North American market, including a dedicated website. It became available to some cable subscribers in New York in August 2011, having previously been available as an option for some viewers in Washington, D.C., Ohio and Los Angeles. The channel primarily reaches the United States via its live online streaming. It is readily available on most major Canadian television providers including Rogers and Bell TV after the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission approved the channel for distribution in Canada on 26 November 2009.
Al Jazeera English and Iran’s state-run Press TV were the only international English-language television broadcasters with journalists reporting from inside both Gaza and Israel during the 2008–2009 Israel-Gaza conflict. Foreign press access to Gaza has been limited via either Egypt or Israel. However, Al Jazeera’s reporters Ayman Mohyeldin and Sherine Tadros were already inside Gaza when the conflict began and the network’s coverage was often compared to CNN’s initial coverage from inside Baghdad in the early days of the 1991 Gulf War.
The channel may also be viewed online. It recommends online viewing at its own website or at its channel on YouTube. Al Jazeera English HD launched in the United Kingdom on Freeview on 26 November 2013, and began streaming in HD on YouTube in 2015.
Eruptions from Mount Cleveland are generally vulcanian and strombolian in nature, characterized by short explosive ash clouds sometimes accompanied by a’a flows, lava fountains, pyroclastic flows, ash and steam emissions, lava dome growth, and the ejection of breadcrust bombs. Hot springs were reportedly found on the volcano in the 1800s, and persistent fumarolic activity was observed in the 1980s and 1990s. Mount Cleveland is a site of persistent steam emissions and thermal anomalies that represent constant background activity. During 2011, a summit lava dome formed, by continuous intrusion of magma at the summit. Late in 2011, nearly 6 explosions demolished the dome. In June 2012, another small dome was observed.
Little is known about Cleveland’s early eruptive history as its remoteness makes it a difficult area to investigate, and discrepancies in names have caused confusion between events there and those on nearby Carlisle. Even today, not all possible events are confirmed as eruptions by the Alaska Volcano Observatory, and many are listed as “possible.” In observed history, Mount Cleveland may have first erupted in 1744; the first confirmed eruption occurred in 1828. The volcano erupted again in 1836, 1893, 1897, 1929, 1932, and 1938.
The first notable eruption from Mount Cleveland was a Volcanic Explosivity Index 3 Vulcanian eruption that occurred between June 10 and June 13, 1944. Lava flows extended 5 km from the summit, and an ash plume 6,000 m high was produced. Large boulders were reportedly ejected and carried out to sea by eruptive force. The eruption had the distinction of being the only confirmed direct volcanic fatality in Alaska; a small detachment from the Eleventh Air Force was stationed on the volcano at the time, and one Sergeant Purchase left his post early in the eruption to take a walk and never returned, probably killed by mudslides. At approximately 10:20, a boat sent to search for Purchase witnessed the end of the eruption. The island was abandoned for the remainder of the war.
Mount Cleveland erupted more recently in 1951, 1953, 1954, 1975, 1984 through 1987, 1989, 1994, and 1997. The volcano has received more focused attention in recent times due to its increased activity: it erupted in 2001, 2005, three times in 2006, 2007, three times in 2009, and twice in 2010. Of these, the most significant eruption was the 2001 eruption, which produced a 12 km high ash plume. This plume dispersed 120 to 150 km 75 to 93 mi across Alaska, an unusual distance that allowed detailed satellite observations to be made. Nikolski and the surrounding region was the site of several hours of ashfall, represented in satellite imagery as areas of discolored snow.This eruption significantly disrupted air traffic in the area.
On June 19, 2012, a pilot reported an ash-producing explosion on Mount Cleveland. Due to continuing seismic activity, the volcano was placed on the USGS Volcano Watch List in the orange or “watch” category the following day. AVO continues to keep Cleveland on the watch because of a persistent anomaly at the summit. AVO suspects it could be dome growth. Other minor ash producing explosions occurred on June 26, July 12, and August 19.
Michelle Bachelet is inaugurated as first female president of Chile.
On January 15, 2006, Michelle Bachelet became Chile’s first woman president-elect. Bachelet came in first in the December 2005 election but did not manage to win a majority in that race, so she faced a runoff in January against her nearest opponent, billionaire businessman, Sebastian Pinera. Earlier, she was minister of defense in Chile, the first woman in Chile or all of Latin America to serve as a minister of defense.
Bachelet, a Socialist, is generally considered a center-leftist. While three other women have won presidential elections in the Americas, Bachelet was the first to win a seat without first becoming known through a husband’s prominence.
Her term in office ended in 2010 because of term limits; she was reelected in 2013 and began serving another term as president in 2014.
Michelle Bachelet was born in Santiago, Chile, on September 29, 1951. Her father’s background is French; her paternal great-grandfather emigrated to Chile in 1860. Her mother had Greek and Spanish ancestry.
Her father, Alberto Bachelet, was an air force brigadier general who died after being tortured for his opposition to Augusto Pinoche’s regime and support of Salvador Allende.
Her mother, an archaeologist, was imprisoned in a torture center with Michelle in 1975, and went into exile with her.
In her early years, before her father’s death, the family moved frequently, and even lived in the United States briefly when her father worked for the Chilean Embassy.
Michelle Bachelet studied medicine from 1970 to 1973 at the University of Chile in Santiago, but her education was interrupted by the military coup of 1973, when Salvador Allende’s regime was overthrown. Her father died in custody in March of 1974 after being tortured. The family’s funds were cut off. Michelle Bachelet had worked secretly for the Socialist Youth, and was imprisoned by the Pinochet regime in 1975 and held in the torture center at Villa Grimaldi, along with her mother.
From 1975-1979 Michelle Bachelet was in exile with her mother in Australia, where her brother had already moved, and East Germany, where she continued her education as a pediatrician.
Bachelet married Jorge Dávalos while still in Germany, and they had a son, Sebastián. He, too, was a Chilean who had fled the Pinochet regime. In 1979, the family returned to Chile. Michelle Bachelet completed her medical degree at the University of Chile, graduating in 1982.
She had a daughter, Francisca, in 1984, then separated from her husband about 1986. Chilean law made divorce difficult, so Bachelet was unable to marry the physician with whom she had her second daughter in 1990.
Bachelet later studied military strategy at Chile’s National Academy of Strategy and Policy and at the Inter-American Defense College in the United States.
Michelle Bachelet became Chile’s Minister of Health in 2000, serving under socialist President Ricarco Lagos. She then served as Minister of Defense under Lagos, the first woman in Chile or Latin America to hold such a post.
Bachelet and Lagos are part of a four-party coalition, Concertacion de Partidos por la Democracia, in power since Chile restored democracy in 1990. Concertacion has focused on both economic growth and spreading the benefits of that growth throughout segments of society.
After her first term as president, 2006 – 2010, Bachelet took a position as the Executive Director of UN Women.
A methane explosion in a coal mine near Nueva Rosita in Mexico kills 65 miners.
Palau, Mexico — Fermin was a mechanic, not a coal miner, but on the morning of February 19, 2006 he had to go down into the Pasta de Conchos mine near here to fix a broken cart that couldn’t haul the coal out.
Five years later, Fermin’s remains are still more than 100 meters (109 yards) below the ground, together with dozens of miners who worked that night.
Daniel Ezquiel, Fermin’s only son, doesn’t remember his father. He was just 1 year old when “the mine swallowed the miners.”
So that he won’t forget, his mother, Maria de Lourdes, sets aside part of her widow’s pension — 2,200 pesos a month — to buy any newspaper that publishes something about the incident. She cuts articles and photos, and pastes them in an album.
That Sunday, just past 2:30 a.m., an explosion left 65 miners buried who were working inside the Pasta de Conchos mine, in the Mexican state of Coahuila, in northern Mexico.
The mine is owned by Grupo Mexico, one of the largest mining companies in the country.
Then-President Vicente Fox never visited the relatives mourning at the mine site. President Felipe Calderon has also avoided meeting with the more than 300 family members.
After five years, the relatives and about five widows continue asking for the bodies to be retrieved from the mine. Citing dangerous conditions, the company abandoned the attempts to pull them out.
Maria de Lourdes says that a year and a half ago, she stopped receiving the 420 pesos the-ex governor of Coahuila sent so that the children of the miners could continue studying.
She sells baby clothing to complement her income and keep her son in school. She doesn’t want Daniel Ezequiel to be a coal miner.
There are several versions about the cause of the incident that killed the workers. Grupo Mexico says that there was an explosion caused by a ball of gas — gas that escapes from the earth at the moment of the coal extraction — and that as a consequence, the temperature in the mine rose to more than 900 degrees Celsius.
However, according to the autopsies of the only two bodies that were pulled from the mine, their deaths were caused by asphyxiation, not burns.
Those two bodies were located in the ninth diagonal tunnel in the mine. Grupo Mexico says it went nearly 2.8 kilometers into the mine, but hadn’t found the other remains.
In February 2007, the Coahuila state government produced 65 death certificates certified by a medical examiner, even though only two bodies had been recovered.
With 63 bodies still underground, Grupo Mexico decided to suspend the rescue of the bodies in April 2007. At that time, the company argued that according to their investigations, 25% to 75% of the mine was flooded and “the water possibly is contaminated by HIV, tuberculosis, hepatitis, that could contaminate the rescuers, their families and entire populations.” These findings were given to the Pasta de Conchos Family Organization, which has advised the victims’ relatives.
Inspection records from a few months before the blast revealed that the ventilation system was failing and that there were problems with the electrical equipment. Some family members say the workers complained of a strong odor of gas.
Through a spokesman, Grupo Mexico declined to speak about the incident, citing internal policies.
Cristina Auerbach, lawyer for the victims’ relatives in the Pasta de Conchos Family Organization, said that explosions in the regions’ mines had been recorded since 1889. Even then, the only times that bodies were left inside the mine were 1889 and 2006. In the rest of the cases, the bodies were always recovered, alive or dead.
Auerbach recalled one of the biggest blasts that happened in 1969 in the town of Barroteran. In the Guadalupe mines, more than 160 people died. A little over a year later, all the bodies were recovered.
“The question isn’t whether Chile could and Mexico couldn’t, because the answer that they will give is that it was different because that mine was mineral and this one was coal, and this one had gas and that one didn’t. What you can compare is the government’s attitude,” she said. “Neither Vicente Fox nor Felipe Calderon has wanted to meet the families. Not only that, but in coal mining region, the bodies are always rescued. Only at Pasta de Conchos they are not.”
In northeast Coahuila, it’s common to find someone who has a miner in the family. Walking down the streets of towns like Nueva Rosita, Palau, San Juan Sabinas and Muzquiz, you can see trucks full of freshly mined coal at all hours.
At the end of each shift — around 3 p.m., 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. — trucks pass by with men whose faces are painted black by the carbon dust that fell on them during their 12 hours of work.
Nearly all the coal in Mexico is produced in Coahuila, according to the National Institute of Statistics, Geography and Information.
Raul Villasana, retired at age 67, also was a miner. He worked for more than 20 years in Grupo Mexico’s mines. One of his sons remains inside Pasta de Conchos. He and his wife Trinidad have traveled several times to Mexico City to participate in demonstrations in front of Grupo Mexico and the Labor Ministry to plead for the excavation of their son.
“We were recently at the Interior Ministry in November and what I asked for was my son’s rescue. I have asked for that since the beginning. Because the mine is not a cemetery, right? It’s for people to work in,” he said. “What we are asking the company and the government to do is to give the bodies to us, so we can do a holy burial and take him flowers, go see him, go visit him with his daughters, wife, sister, who also have asked for this.”
Villasana’s son left behind a son and two daughters. The widow decided to invest the 750,000 pesos that the family received from the company to set up a used clothes business that she supplies from the United States.
Maria de Lourdes, Fermin’s widow, knows the mining life well. Her father, Arsenio, was also a miner. He mined black gold from Pasta de Conchos. He retired several years before the blast.
Five years after the tragedy, she says some rescuers have dared to confess that at night they heard “noises like pickaxes striking on metal.”
Arsenio thinks those were the sounds of the last surviving miners.
“Though after all that time there is no way that they could come out alive,” he stated.
For residents like Villasana and Arsenio, Pasta de Conchos turned from a mine into a cemetery the morning of February 19. 2006.